All posts by colinkirby


ASEMTEIDE Declares War On Plastic Bags In Santiago Del Teide

It takes a united approach to make a big change and in Santiago del Teide on the west coast of Tenerife local business association ASEMTEIDE are taking a lead by issuing 3,000 reuseable eco bags to their members for customer use. ASEMTEIDE – Associacion Empressarios y Comerciantes de Santiago del Teide was formed in 2005 and has over 80 active business’s signed up.

The new bags have a life of two years and can make a big difference to peoples shopping habbits, it’s estimated that the average person gets through 600 plastic bags during their lifetime. The new scheme is part of a strategy from the Department of Commerce within the Canary Island government, they can see the big savings this can bring. A spokesperson said “over the next two years this will avoid the use of 990,502,800 million plastic bags, enough oil to drive a car 41,500,400 miles,”

Most councils in the Canary Islands have now embraced the green message and are looking at ways to preserve resources and to protect the local environment.



Lanzarote Joins Canary Islands Olive Oil Revolution

An ambitious project to add olive groves to the natural economy of the Canary Islands has grown steadily since it’s launch in 2005 and now another island government is taking it a stage further with the campaign Ecological Olives In Lanzarote. The climate in the Canary Islands is ideal for large scale olive oil growth and cultivation, the first of the new groves were planted in Arico, Tenerife but now there are over 60,000 of the Acebuche trees planted across the seven islands, all promoting organic farming.

AgroLanzarote, part of the Lanzarote Insular Agricultural Service are taking the lead by offering olive trees to prospective farmers for 2.70 euros each with a minimum order of 300 trees. Francisco Fabelo of AgroLanzarote has pledged their full support. “Olive trees can be very productive, and can generate profits in the agricultural sector of the island. Therefore AgroLanzarote is trying to promote this culture and help farmers who venture to try it. The Insular Agricultural Service is hiring technicians experienced in these olive varieties, who can control the plantations until they reach production, with at least three visits per farm per year.”

The Acebuche tree is native to the Canary Islands, mainly in the valley areas, and produce large crops of olives. The long term aim is to encourage more olive groves across the Canary Islands and add exporting to the already growing local market.



Cabildo Gives Unemployed A Green Purpose In Tenerife Parks

It’s a perfect match, 122 unemployed people in Tenerife have been given rewarding and useful work that will benefit the entire Tenerife community. The Cabildo (government) have taken on the work force to clean and maintain key areas of protected natural spaces around the island.

The project was started up in December 2010 through the Cabildo’s environmental department and is 80% funded by the European Social Fund. There are many protected natural spaces in Tenerife including the rural parks of Teno and Anaga, both of these have been targetted for the new campaign. At the Parque Rural de Anaga 31 workers will clean and clear forest paths, viewing points and walkways that are part of the main hiking routes. At Teno similar work will see 29 new staff helping to replant indigenous plants and also improve walkers access to Monte del Aqua.

SupaSwap Starts Recycling At A Young Age

In this use it up and throw away society it’s good to know that recycling can be fun and taught from a young age. SupaSwap the leading online trading website for 8 to 18 year olds is showing that there is a market for almost new toys, games and much more.

Social media is the thing of the future and something that schools are trying to install in peoples understanding at an early level. Supaswap makes full use of all the social media networks and encourages young traders to learn as they save on waste and also learn the value of good housekeeping.

With Facebook, Twitter and You Tube all included in the SupaSwap package youngsters are getting used to everyday use of these useful tools for work and fun. Global warming is also a burning issue these days, recycling goods through exchange sites like Supaswap is making real inroads into reducing CO2 emissions. and most of all, it’s fun.


Community Key To Green Year In Tenerife

The Office of Participation and Environmental Volunteers for the Tenerife government has looked back on the 2009 programme with some pride after 2,290 volunteers joined business backers to improve Tenerife.

The biggest project was a reforestation programme involving 750 people, this covered Finca La Orilla in Anaga National Park, Las Calderetas in El Sauzal, plus El Rayo and El Rosario. Some 2,500 trees of varying species were added to boost the natural scenery.

La Mar de Limpia is another long standing project that cleans up rubbish along the shoreline. Last year 470 volunteers removed 830 kilos of discarded rubbish from around the coast. Education was an important part of this initiative with talks about the coastal environment and the release of turtles back into the wild after treatment for injury. In Teno it wasn’t just the beaches that were cleaned up, teams of divers made sure that the sea beds were also made safer.

This years clean up campaigns are already well under way, the removal of rubbish addresses the immediate problem but informing people of the damage caused by discarding waste should help to cut down on further erosion of the coast and rural areas.


Tenerife Councils Pile Up The Compost Heap

Sometimes good intentions are thwarted by a lack of practical method, in Guia de Isora, Tenerife, a local farm is making a great success of producing bio compost. Lomo del Balo farm has made a name for making high quality bio compost, and now local councils are making tracks there to dispose of their bio degradable waste.

No chemicals are allowed in the mix at the farm but the councils of Santiago del Teide, Guia de Isora and Adeje are sending their rubbish from their parks and gardens to be added to the brew. The compost also includes stale beer and is left to stew for 3 months before it is ready to sell for farming and gardening purposes. The scheme is a winner all round and has solved a big waste disposal problem for many in the more remote areas of the island.


Proud Parents At Birth Of Bioclimatic Village In Tenerife

It took collective talent and determination to take a self sufficient dream and turn it into a reality 14 years later. March 19th 2010 will go down as a landmark day for bioclimatic houses, the worlds first village, containing 25 CO2 free and totally self sufficient houses was inaugurated at ITER in Granadilla, Tenerife. The original competition was thrown open to all architects worldwide and attracted 397 entries, this was later whittled down to 25 and the long process of drawing up plans and gradually blending the houses together on one sight began.

Key players in the project spoke at the inauguration about their part in the development and their hopes for the future. Ricardo Melchior was the driving force that started the ball rolling through the Tenerife College of Architects and then the International College in Paris. The Tenerife President has a strong background in engineering, he studied in Spain and Germany and holds an honorary doctorate in science from Ireland University and the National Order of Merit from the French government.

“I always felt we could use architecture to create environmentally friendly living conditions” the President explained. “It’s not enough to just position buildings facing south or north, we have to look into all aspects that can help and comply with international guidelines like the Kioto agreement. In five years time 90% of the worlds population will live in cities, hopefully what we have achieved here at ITER will become a template for those that follow.”

Introducing Dr Wolfgang Palz, chairman of the World Council for Renewable Energy, Melchior commented that he had been greatly influenced by one of the Doctors early books 25 years ago. The German has a PHD in physics and was in charge of the European Union’s research and development of renewable energy for 20 years. “ ITER has a proven record in new technology, the largest producing photovoltaic plant in the world is here. Solar energy is a clean affordable way forward, France tried a nuclear breeder with disastrous results but here they only use totally solar power breeders.”

Manuel Cendagorta-Galarza, director of ITER added his views. “Domestic consumption now makes up 50% of all power demands so we must look at local solution that we can use on a global scale. Here at the bioclimatic village we have blended different ideas together in the 25 houses, we have to ensure we put no limits on the possibilities. The use of recycled and specialist materials can make a big difference, since the project began I have included some of these materials in my own home. In the years ahead we will carefully monitor these bioclimatic houses using sensors to evaluate humidity, temperature and wind, the lessons we learn will be shared openly through the world to help make a difference.”

One of the architects present Madelaine Fava from New York, led a team based in France and explained the process that led to her construction El Alisio. “I read the competition proposal 15 years ago in architectural journals and it fired my imagination. There wasn’t a big interest in ground breaking design in France so it seemed like a good opportunity.

After making contact with the organisers and getting the specifications I worked hard with my team to produce three sample panels to present. After that we had a mechanical engineer look at our plans to check them structurally and make sure that they were possible to turn into reality. The design work was carried out by the Daniel Faure company Adret, that means south facing slope”.

El Alisio combines three units representing water, sun and air. Although the building is complete it is not yet furnished and was not open for visitors at the inauguration. For Madelaine this trip was her first chance to see her work in its complete form. “ I’m pleased with how it has turned out but wish that maybe I had been able to be more hands on and closer in the development stages. My work takes me to Tahiti and the Caribbean as well as teaching in Paris so it is a question of balancing all if these demands. I’m very impressed by the tenacity and dedication of the team behind the bioclimatic village, it has influenced me a lot and now I find myself taking these considerations into the architectural projects I work on”.


A Bioclimatic Vision Unveiled In Tenerife

It started as an open challenge 14 years ago from the Tenerife government to architects around the world, design a self sufficient dwelling that blends in and makes full use of its natural surroundings, with zero CO2 emissions. Some 397 applied for the project but that was whittled down to the best 25, they were given full reign to develop their ideals on the 400,000 square metre ITER (Institute of Technology and Renewable Energy) site in Granadilla, Tenerife.

The world’s media came together with the scientific and architectural community on Friday 19 March to celebrate the official inauguration of these 25 beacons for the future. With 90 % of the worlds population expected to live in cities within five years the drive has been to make houses that are functional, practical and pleasing to live in, the applicants certainly rose to the challenge.

The winner of the contest was La Geria (above) from a Spanish team led by Cesar Ruiz-Larrea Cangas. The name refers to a horseshoe shaped protective wall used to shield vines in Lanzarote’s wine regions, and bunkered down into the earth, this house makes good use of the grounds warmth and insulation. Facing the best light source keeps energy use down and liberal sprinklings of plants on the shaded patio area contribute to the cool feel of the building.

All the houses differ but they share common features, extensive use of photovoltaic solar panels, wind turbines and a shared water supply with desalinated sea water from the Atlantic that laps the perimeter of ITER. Complimenting the environment is also an important consideration, the partial sinking of many of the houses helps to blend them in and building materials were carefully chosen to be recycled and good for the retention of heat, light and energy. Each dwelling also blends with its neighbouring buildings using natural colours and textures.

The competing architects have not lost sight of the need to make these houses into desirable homes, many of the external looks are bold and exciting such as La Estrella (the star) or the open fronted Las Bovedas. The nest stage of the project is for scientists and other interested parties to live in the houses and test them as they interact on a daily basis. All the houses are fitted with monitors to constantly check air flow and quality, inside and outside temperatures and humidity.

Tenerife presents unique weather and environmental challenges and advantages, those have all been factored into the development of this village, but the idea is to use the knowledge gained on this site to implement bioclimatic techniques around the world. The new homes will now act as a living laboratory and are making a big impact on architectural thinking and planning for the next generation of homes

Arona leads the way in clean up fight

There’s a recycling revolution going on in Arona, the southern municipality of Tenerife. The council has embraced sustainable principles by providing a wealth of collection points where paper, glass, plastics and other waste can be seperated for easy treatment.

Arona includes the tourist hot spots of Los Cristianos and part of Las Americas, so produces lots of waste on a commercial level. The council have a free collection service to take cooking oil from bars and restaurants for recycling. Smaller domestic users now have a municipal waste depot near Buzanada where people can take a diverse range of waste and leave it free of charge. This covers batteries, paint, wood, metals and aerosols to name just a few.

The example set by Arona is alreadt being picked up by neighbouring councils, all helping to improve the future of Tenerife.

Beached Sperm Whales found dead in Tenerife

Sperm Whale

There was a double shock along the east coast of Tenerife when 2 dead Sperm Whales (like the one pictured, from another incident) were found on the same day just a few miles apart. The discoveries happened at El Tablado in Guimar and Las Maretas in Arico.

The Guimar whale was  7 metres long and weighed 7,000 kilos while the Arico whale was slightly bigger at 11 metres long and weighing 15 tons. The bodies were taken away for examination to discover the cause of their deaths. Their are many dangers facing whales around the Canary Islands, such as pollution, shipping and sometimes sonar from military vessels. Tenerife environmental groups will be watching with great interest as they continue to try to protect these magnificent creatures.